Explanation of Position on agenda item 69 (b) on the resolution "Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatization, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief"

Teri Robl
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
New York, NY
November 28, 2012


The United States heartily welcomes the consensus adoption of the resolution on combating intolerance, discrimination, and violence against persons based upon religion or belief. This marks the one-year anniversary of this resolution in the UN General Assembly, which represents a significant step forward in the global dialogue on this pressing issue. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the delegation of the United Arab Emirates for its role in facilitating and coordinating this resolution, and to all delegations who worked diligently and constructively to reach consensus.

The United States supports today’s resolution, which like its predecessor rejects broad prohibitions on speech, and supports actions to address religious intolerance, discrimination, and violence that do not limit freedom of expression or infringe on the freedom of religion.

We are pleased that this resolution welcomes the launch of the Istanbul Process to promote implementation of Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, thereby reaffirming 16/18 as our common path forward in dealing with ongoing challenges in combating intolerance.

As this resolution acknowledges, violence is never an appropriate response to speech. Rather, the best response to offensive speech is contrary speech.

While some aspects of the resolution cite parts of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, we reaffirm our common understanding that Article 19 is to be read as whole and provides broad protections for freedom of expression.

We understand the resolution reaffirms that states are to prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion or belief and to implement measures to guarantee the equal and effective protection of the law, including laws prohibiting the resort to violence.

At a time when violence and discrimination against individuals based on religion and belief is all too common, we urge the international community to take action and implement the specific steps called for in this resolution. We call attention to the productive experts meeting held last December in Washington, D.C., on implementation of two specific areas of the resolution, and we look forward to the next implementation meeting being held in London next week. We look forward to continuing to work with all interested parties on focusing international and domestic efforts on implementing the important measures called for in HRC Resolution 16/18, including speaking out against intolerance, encouraging training of government officials, and fostering religious freedom and pluralism.


PRN: 2012/282